Welcome to Kinema Club
Welcome to the website of Kinema Club, a long-standing, international but informal group devoted to the study of Japanese moving image media. Kinema Club was started precisely to share knowledge about Japanese cinema, so this site serves both to introduce our activities, such as the KineJapan mailing list and our conferences and workshops, as well promote information and thinking about films, research, bibliography, and education.
Young Kurosawa Thrives in Uncertain Times
With stories of religious cults on a rampage, children killing children, and school classes falling apart filling the newspapers in the last couple years, it’s not hard to feel that the order of things has gone awry. Yet with the immensity and unfathomability of these problems, you still get a helpless feeling that all these might be...Read more
Laughing at the End of the World
Aikawa Sho and Takeuchi Riki, the two great stars of Japanese made-for-video gangster entertainment, are squatting on the bank of some squalid, industrialized river. The image itself seems in the process of falling apart, with the scratches one sees in an old movie raining down like cats and dogs. The two turn to the camera and, as if starting up their...Read more
To Know or Not to Know
The romantic pretensions of Hollywood to the contrary, love is a very messy business. After all, the other person is a completely separate being, whose independent thoughts, feelings, and experiences cannot be accessed immediately through ESP, whose very actions must always be interpreted through the unreliable filter of subjective impressions. One wonders if we...Read more
Curse of the Salaryman
Salaryman movies have been one of the staples of Japanese film fare ever since these white-collar employees became the mythical center of both the economy and society of Japan. Yet these films have rarely been the kind of unabashed celebration of their heroes that one finds in, say, the treatment of the cowboy in many U.S. Westerns. The image of the salary man...Read more
A Drift Between Human, Subhuman
Humanity has built great cities and flown to the moon, but to Tsukamoto Shinya it remains as animalistic as ever. His cult classic The Iron Man (“Tetsuo,” 1989), featuring characters who slowly devolve (evolve?) into grotesque metallic beasts, presented the industrial...Read more
Film as Critique Is a Real Fake
First a head is lopped off, then a scantily clad beauty gets sliced in two, and finally everything ends in a dance of blood and knives. It is de rigeur for a horror flick and clearly as fake as it can be. Did you ever meet someone who really thought Janet Leigh was stabbed to death in Psycho?
Horror films, however, maintain their long-...Read more
The Hellish Loneliness of Living in the Big City
Ever since its towering spires began to blot out the sky, the modern city has been metaphorically tied to hell. From Hell’s Kitchen in New York to the shadowy infernos of film noir, the city has come to represent in name and image the depths to which humanity can sink.
The title of Ryuichi Hiroki’s new film, Night...Read more
Another Ambiguous Aoyama Take on Youth Studies
It is commonplace to mourn the inability of contemporary youth to communicate. Lost in their virtual realities of video games and cellular phones, they seem unable to handle people of flesh and blood–other than perhaps through random violence. It is as if they cannot establish contact because they don’t even acknowledge the...Read more
Laughing as the World Turns UPSIDE DOWN
When a nicely-dressed woman trips over a rock and tumbles down a steep slope in real life, you usually call for the paramedics, not stand there and laugh. Movie comedy, however, makes you do the opposite. That’s the sinister, almost sadistic side to humor that allows the better comedy directors to go beyond just the laughs to explore the...Read more